Emma Waverman writes about the chaos of modern family life. She is the co-author of the family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them and is hoping to one day finish her certification as a parenting coach. She lives with her three kids, ranging from tween to grade schooler, and husband in Toronto. Emma has written for a variety of national parenting and lifestyle magazines and newspapers. When she's is not making typos, telling you what she thinks, and thinking about dinner, you can find her on Twitter at @emmawaverman. You can contact Emma at embracingchaos@hotmail.ca.

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Michigan Mom Wants "Pornographic" Anne Frank Pulled

Anne Frank's memoir holds up today because, even though she was in a surreal situation, she is a relateable teen girl. Anne's amazing diary has transported teens to that Secret Annex where she was cloistered with Peter's family, and of course, to her tragic end at the hands of the Nazis.

Her writing is so fresh and clear that she becomes your friend, your sister, your cousin. She learns to adapt to her harrowing experiences by being a teen girl -- embarrassments, outbursts, crushes and all.

But a mom in Michigan feels that Anne may have been a little too real, and says that a passage in the newest edition, The Diary of A Young Girl: The Definitive Guide is too "pornographic" for her daughter.

[The Diary has gone through a number of edits since it was published in the Netherlands in 1947. Anne's father, who survived the death camps, took some passages out that have been added back in for the more recent editions.]

In the passage, Anne writes about discovering her vagina. She is extremely knowledgable and uses the terms labia and clitoris:

Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn't realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn't see them. What's even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris…When you're standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you're standing, so you can't see what's inside. They separate when you sit down and they're very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there's a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That's the clitoris." (from Jezebel)

The Michigan mother has complained to the school board that she should have received notice that her daughter was going to read "pornographic" passages in the novel. 

I guess this mom hasn't read too much pornography, or spent too much time on the Internet, or even a teen's Facebook page, because this is simple biology. A girl of 13 should be able to name her parts.

She says she brought the complaint forward because her daughter told her that there were some graphic passages were making her "uncomfortable". 

I sure hope so. Anne Frank should make you uncomfortable. It should make a 13-year-old uncomfortable to know that it could have been her living in a tiny annex for two years. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to know that if I was living in Amsterdam in 1942, I would have been hiding with my children in someone's basement or attic -- and that is the best case scenario.

The fact that Anne, like most teens, had sexual feelings should make her more real. It certainly does not make the book something to be banned. 

I am not saying this woman is anti-semitic. But the fact that she would talk to the news and bring this forward publicly tells me that she wants her daughter to stay ignorant, and she chooses to focus on a very small part of a bigger picture. The fact that her crusade distracts from the Anne Frank's message tells me something about her -- and it's not good. 

She will have her 15 minutes of fame. And when she is long forgotten, Anne Frank's memory will live on. 

(If you are interested in teaching your kids about the Holocaust, Hannah's Suitcase is appropriate for younger kids around the age of 9 & 10. It's a true story.)

Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about anxiety caused by the news that there is arsenic in apple juice. 

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Reader Comments (39)

I don't remember that part of the book, maybe I read the version that had that omitted. It could also possibly be that I read that part and forgot, as the message I took from the book was of the suffering that Jewish people had to endure. The risk people had to take to stand up against the Nazi's, the love people had for her family going to great lengths to keep them out of the concentration camps, the fear, but also of the joy that was shared. The hope. I guess amidst all of that I forgot about the "pornographic" part and Anne finding her labia.On a side note another book that, in my opinion, everyone should be read, and always makes me cry, is Night by Elie Wiesel.
May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
This woman is pathetic but the reality is you can get your 15 minutes for saying or doing pretty much anything-there is a huge following for idiots.Her daughter is reading about Anne Frank people hiding, living in fear we've never known,story of courage and the beautiful life of this amazing little girl and this mom is worried about a clitoris?If that passage is her big worry I am truly terrified.
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersamh
I read Night in high school and own a copy now. That was a great book!

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC.J.
I just gave my 5th grade daughter Diary of Anne Frank to read because she is interested in history, especially WW2 history. I haven't checked to see if she has the "pornographic" version and don't plan to. She knows what female anatomy is and what it does. By 7th grade if kids don't know about anatomy there is a big problem. If anything reading about a girl questioning her body will just make kids realize their questions are normal. There is a problem when people are so overprotective of their kids that they want to ban classic literature so they can keep their kids in a bubble. Somebody has a problem if that is all they learned from that book.
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC.J.
This makes me so angry! I was fortunate enough to visit Amsterdam 2 years ago and actually visited Anne Frank haus. It was so chilling, the whole house made me feel like I was in another dimension. It was really haunting in the most indescribable way. I learned so much that day. A few days later I went to Dachau concentration camp in Germany. It was a really difficult day. I didn't really feel like eating until the next evening. It's amazing what a human can endure, and it's amazing what humans are capable of (both good and bad). This sort of ignorance is just disgusting. This was not an pornographic or incestuous passage. It was a teen girl going through the worst possible situation you could imagine, trying to find a way to cope. Her story is thought-provoking and a must read. I can't believe that it's 2013 and we still have people like this on the planet. How can you be so ignorant? It makes me unbelievably sad.
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole T
Of course Anne Frank's story is an important read and of course there is so much more to take away from it than the fact that she was at an age when people (of both sexes) start to explore their sexuality. I'm gratified that so far everyone who has commented is of the opinion that the mother in question is, to put it frankly, in the wrong. But I would still like to throw in my two cents.

The problem I have with anyone who takes offence to the so called "pornographic" passage is how this mentality is quite simply another stab at the female body. Would we be so up in arms about it if it was a boy writing about his first erection? I don't have an answer. I do know however, that we NEED absolutely to stop demonizing the female body. Half of humanity has one, myself included. Why are we trying to prevent our children from knowing that girls have something called a clitoris and boys don't? When we teach children there is shame attached to certain body parts we rob them of the experience of being wholly comfortable in their own skins. And that is a message I don't ever want to see perpetuated.
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRae
No reason to take those passages out. If anything, it enhances the story that was her life. How? By allowing the reader to get to know Anne on a more personal level. After all, it is her diary.
The original version, which I read in school (mixed-gender class) in the early 80's, included mention of Anne being embarrassed about dealing with menstration when all she had was a communal bucket in a room with mixed-gender occupants... the woman who has made this complaint has lost her grasp of reality. The book has been, since it was published, a gritty account of being a refugee, and discovering being a girl. There is nothing pornographic in that, nor should there be anything infered by it. To even complain about it shows her level of complete ignorance and quite frankly screams "redneck" louder than anything I've heard in recent history!
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn D
Another amazing pair of books about that period of time is Long Whiskers and one called Gold In the furnace by Savitri Devi.

Amazing books, Gold In the Furnace really highlights the horrible atrocities committed on a entire race of innocent people for little more then thought crimes, and then the mass FORCED "reeducation" of these same people.

Defiance by Savitri Devi is another BEAUTIFUL book
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrank reality
The only thing ' pornographic ' about Anne Frank is in the woman's mind. It is so sad to see people whine and complain about every little wrinkle in life...I am actually sick and tired of steadfast political correctness. Stop trying to make the world a pure and sterile place full of ' yes sir/no sir automatons '. It is not such a place. Grow up...face reality.
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLazman
Loser. Period. Another ignorant american trying to pretend that the real world doest exist beyond her narrow minded hypocrisy.
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjtr
Funny how only two weeks ago Justin Bieber was vilified by the Jewish community for commenting that she was just a normal teenage girl; and now we're to believe that she was just a normal teenage girl discovering her anatomy. I'll retire to bedlam!
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick kay
I couldn't agree more with the above article and comments so far.At my age I shouldn't still be amazed at the ignorance that is rampant in this world,but it astounds me that this Michigan mother sees cause to complain about that passage in Anne Frank's Diary.Anne is merely discovering her body as most young girls do sooner or later,and if a 13yr.old is "uncomfortable" reading about it,her self awareness is sadly lacking.What really shocks me is that this Michigan woman has zoned in on that particular aspect of Anne's life,while ignoring the horror Anne and her family had to endure at the hands of the Nazis.How fortunate she is that the description of a teenage girls body parts is her biggest worry.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarola
Some people will do anything for attention, this has nothing to do with concern for her daughter.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGenie
What next? Not allowing kids to attend museums because of some nude sculptures. So many kids go through the awkwardness of self discovery and it is nice that they can relate to a novel that depicts the same thing in a much more difficult setting. Pornography is something lustful and unfeeling. This is not the case. Ignorance is blissful to some and such a waste of time for others. Ironically enough people like her are okay with guns and the potential harm they represent but not okay with what the Lord has given us all......a vessel of life.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerry
This woman is unbelievable, laughable actually... not worth thinking about... I feel sorry for her children though.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie
This Michigan mother must not have labia or a clitoris. If she does then she too is guilty of having pornagraphic material. How silly!
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSnow White
This woman needs to give her head a shake. Our girls should know all body parts and be able to name them long before that age. This is a fantastic book and I am thrilled that my girls read it. Instead of getting upset she should be sitting down with her daughter to find out what is making her feel uncomfortable and why. Then teach her about her body.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelly D.
Children in my area lean about sex ed in grade 3 she really wouldn't agree with that
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterD
Are you on dope lady? It is an account of history, what is pornographic about it, kids today know more about sex and the human body then we did growing. Get a grip, open your eyes to the world both past and present.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSky Hawk
First of all, it's her diary; People write anything they want in their diary. Second, how was she supposed to know it would get published and the whole world would read her personal thoughts? And third, my mom was too over protective like this woman where I didn't find out what a clitoris was until I was twenty and was still uncomfortable in my own skin until just recently because I was always scared of being 'indecent'.....
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica50
I don't think there is anything pornographic about the book, however it is ther mothers perogative to feel any way she wants to feel about some parts of the book and how it makes her own child feel. that doesn't make her a racist at all just a protective parent. Nor does it make her an idiot, ignorant or a redneck. And I don't think it makes a difference if they are talking about a vagina or a penis. She is still entitled to her own opinion and should not be attacked for it.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian
the book is very good, but the mother is going on her daughters feelings and her own, we all have a right to what we think and what we feel, it is not ignorance its life as the individual sees it.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterp. johnson
and in a few years when her daughter is 16 she will wonder how she got pregnant.....mistakes are easy to make when you are not educated. Do parents expect their kids to turn 18 and know everything about their body and sex?I feel for this woman’s daughter, doesn't sounds like she will ever get much of a chance to experience things outside of her immediate surroundings.

May 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermatt
Nah..She just wants her few seconds fame! nobody forces you or your kids read the book so don't be a %$#@ mom.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkatsuo
this woman falls in one of two catagories: 1) she is the mother who is so over protective of her children that they don't even know the names of body parts, they probably grew up hearing words like toot, wee wee etc. which is really sad and makes one wonder about the parents own hang-ups. 2) She is using this exert (a very small part of the book) to cover up her her anxiety that her daughter is reading about an event that happened and shows what the Jewish people went through during WW11. If this is the case this is also a mother pressing her prejudice on her child. Not a good way to parent, but what can you do-parents have to be screened to have a dog but not to have a child. Makes no sense to me.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie
I can't for the life of me understand what is wrong with that Norville womans view on that portion of Anne Franks diary. As a child of the 2nd world war and emmigrant parents from Holland, I am assuming that woman has absolutely no idea of the 'hell' our fore-bearers suffered during those 4 years of utter terror. The hiding and lying to help save ourselves, and the nightmares from constantly hearing whistling bombs drop and our friends and neighbors blown to bits, worrying that we're going to be next . . and that's only the tip of the iceberg! That woman needs to grow up and realize that our children are so much smarter today and have a far greater 'need-to-know' attitude, if all is tastefully taught, I say bravo!
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDovergal
It is ignorance. She is, of course, allowed to see things as she sees them but that does not stop it from being ignorance. Her daughter should be aware of the human anatomy, and to read that book and worry about a young girl learning about her body instead of the danger, fear and prejudice she suffered seems to mitigate the entire story. I am always astounded by people uptight attitudes about sex and the human body. Lots of these same said people think nothing of buying their kids violent videos games, taking them to violent movies, and having guns in the house, but somehow, sex offends them.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter2 cents worth
What in the heck is pornographic about talking about one's anatomy? I have read the book, but without this addition, and if the excerpt in the article is completely indicative of the text, then I REALLY see nothing pornographic. It's not as though she's going into detail about masturbation, or her feelings when she touches herself. She is describing her own discovery, hence why it's a diary, of herself, her surroundings, her feelings, etc. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this what every human being encounters at around this age - whether or not we verbalize it and write it down is immaterial. This only serves to 'humanize' Anne even more to the reader. This mom needs to get off her prudish 'high-horse' and accept reality.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDarren
I agree that there is nothing "pornographic" about the passage, and it is real and makes Anne more related as a young girl. However, I did note that it was Anne's father who had elected to have some passages removed from the original version. I am curious about who decided to put them back in. ALthough there is nothing wrong with the passages, there must have been a reason her father wanted them out, and if he didn't approve them being put back in, then I feel that maybe putting them back in is some sort of violation to him and his memory of her. I do not know if he has since passed away or is still living, but I am not sure I agree with the passages being put in without his permission. ALthough this story is moving and needs to be remembered so that history doesn't repeat itself, we need to keep in mind that Anne was a real girl with a real family, yes this is the point to keep history from repeating itself, but also for the fact that there are some things she or her family may not have wanted shared...this was written as a private diary after all and not intended as a book.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
This is the type of parent who believes 'ignorance is bliss' -- she should be thankful not condone the book because in all liklihood after reading it her daughter can now correctly label and define her body parts. She stikes me of the type of parent who would not have 'the talk' with her child, will not educate her about her body, preach abstinence --- and then be shocked when her child turns up pregnant at 15.

I second the opinion -- such a small matter in the face of horror.

I read the version that was more edited and have not read the re-release. I have such respect for Anne's father for allowing the diary to be published in it's more honest state. It has educated countless people and will continue to do so. Anne has not and will not ever be forgotten and has become a friend to countless girls as we attempt to muddle through the often lonely process of growing up.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterehs
This woman clearly does not even understand what the word "pornographic" means, let alone the content of the book. Thank goodness there are so many people out there who realize that her comments on the book are absolute ludicrous! I feel really terrible for her daughter feeling uncomfortable reading a description of her own anatomy. They started teaching us this in school in the fourth grade, well before we turned 13!
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
The majority of commentors should be ridiculing Otto Frank as well as these parents. He, quite clearly, didn't think that these were appropriate passages for others to be reading either.
May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
I don't really see how the addition of this passage adds to the story and what most of us take away from it. This was a young girls very PRIVATE thoughts about something very private. I rather think her father felt that it exposed just a little too much about his daughter. I think Anne herself would be horrified to learn this part was being read world-wide. Personally if someone read something like that from my diary (meant only for my eyes) I would feel incredibly violated. Her father made a respectful decision and I think we should honour that. I personally would have been very uncomfortable reading that for school at that age, although my mom had taught me all the proper names for the parts and their uses, and I was certainly not ashamed of my body. We read aloud in class quite often, and I would have been horrified to ready this part for my classmates to hear. Would you take similar comments from your daughter's private diary and post it publicly?
May 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbecky
She can censor what her kid reads, but she better not dare try to censor what others read. That's her choice, but she doesn't get to trample other peoples rights because she has a stick up her butt.
May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterToya
I commend the mother. Although I might let my children read it, I would at least want to know about the content so that I could discuss it with them.
May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSam Wilkins
I wonder what this woman has to say about her children reading a book* that includes the following:--a married man banging his housekeeper--a woman posing as a prostitute and attempting to seduce her father-in-law--two women getting their father hammered in order to have sex with him, presumably at the same time--a guy pimping two of his daughters to houseguests--men loving each other more than any woman--women loving each other so much one follows the other around until death

*Yup, you guessed it: the Bible.
May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterD
Of course the 13 yr old would be embarrassed as that is an awkward age. However, this is the parent's job to guide the child through those times (and a little bit of the child on their own). We don't need to rely on censoring the school districts or rewriting books. Somethings are just up to parents, that's why it's called parenting!

Anne Frank is a good book and if that is the only passage in the book that relates that the "Mom" is complaining about, it's obvious that Fox News has nothing better to report on!
May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRamos
I don't remember it either, Liz. I suspect it was not important and I too received the same message from the book. I can understand a parent's concern, but feel it is the parent's business to simply tell the school her daughter needs a substitute. For older children and adults I heartily recommend Sarah's Key.
May 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercatladyofva

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